Possible responses hung in my head, most of them bad. I settled on, “I’m sorry. I wish we could have done something, but none of us are any good at healing.”
I thought back to my friend Alex. He was good at healing. It would have been nice if the Ghosts had grabbed him along with Rachel. He couldn’t have survived the trip without a spaceship, and everything I knew through my implant and Rachel said that they didn’t bother with them.
Kals shook her head. “Iolan could have done it if he had access to all his equipment. The Ascendancy killed her in more ways than one. I hate them. I don’t know how, but somehow we have to destroy them. Not everybody, but the Ascendant and the Ascendant Council, the Guard… It all needs to end.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 36
Four Hands looked into the camera or whatever he was using. It might just as easily have been an image captured from his brain by his implant.
He paused, giving all of us viewing a chance to look at him. Though I’d peg him as being in his late 20s (only a few years older than I was), he had bags under his eyes. I supposed that leading the Ascendancy forces after they’d been destroyed by us, followed by taking over the Ascendancy’s flagship, might be tiring and stressful.
“If any of the Cosmic Ghosts are listening, I ask you to save as many of my people as you can as you destroy the Ascendancy fleet. We’re not in charge, and we’re as susceptible to motivator commands as any human in the Ascendancy.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 35
I wasn’t sure whether Neves was dead, unconscious, or unconscious and dying. Either way, there was something bugging me.
“How did you get him? I thought he absorbed punches.”
Looking down at Neves’ body, Jaclyn said, “I knew that punching him would give him faster and harder to hurt, so I ran from him, thinking that maybe I’d be able to wear him down and then maybe run him past a bunch of Xiniti so they could shoot him with energy weapons. The problem was that he realized it and used a burst of energy to catch me. I punched him then because I had no choice. It knocked him sideways like I intended, and powered him up like I was trying to avoid, but it broke his… absorption field? and hurt him a little.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 28
Nick, Hideaway Surface
Kals walked up to us at about the same time as Katuk joined us.
As we backed up to let them into the group, Kals asked, “What’s your plan?”
“We don’t really have one,” I said. “We’re kind of working on backup plans in case the shields go down. Also, we missed the rest of what she said. Given that everyone’s looking tense, I’m guessing they’re just about to start?”
“Close,” Kals glanced back toward the shelter. “She made a big appeal to Mom and the Council to surrender and save the lives of all the people fighting today. It wasn’t much different than what they’ve said before.”
Cassie laughed. “It’s almost like they’re afraid to fight you.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 12
They poured over the shields, throwing themselves over by pushing off from the trees standing outside of the ring.
The only good thing that could be said is that this time they were all coming from the back half and left side of the shelter. That wasn’t good by itself, but it meant that Jaclyn and Tikki were cutting off routes past our defenses.
I aimed the sonics up at the Ascendancy soldiers. The smart ones were crawling down the trees in front of or between the ends of two shields. I didn’t dare aim the sonics there. They destabilized Kamia’s Abominator shields and I didn’t want to take down one of ours. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 6
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that seeing people there ready to fight gave me some hope. My mind noted that hope or not, the Ascendancy troops almost had to outnumber them.
We crossed the clearing, walking instead of running, giving them time to recognize us even though it was still dark. A few of them pointed at the dog, but no one shot at us.
Outside along with them stood Jadzen Akri, some members of the Council and more colonists I didn’t recognize, all of them watching us as we came closer.
As we came near, Kals said, “Mom, I didn’t know you were coming here.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 20
“So in your opinion,” I asked Hal, “where would the best place for us to go?”
Hal responded without any hesitation. “That depends on your purpose. I’ve simulated multiple versions of the upcoming battle. Judging from the Ascendancy’s soldiers movements, their goal appears to be first of all to capture or kill the leadership and then to move on to destroying the rest of the colonists.
“I don’t know where Jadzen Akri and the Council will be with certainty, but I know where the battle between the Xiniti and Ascendancy forces will be. The probability is that the battle will be fought at a clearing roughly one mile west of here. I believe there to be a shelter there, but since their shelter are designed to be hard to detect by Alliance and Ascendancy technology, I can’t be sure. Were you to go there, you’d be in an excellent position to defend the colony’s leadership. Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 19
Marcus cocked his head. “You know, I don’t think there is much of a choice here. I’m not sure we have much of a chance to find the plant. I mean, how would we do it? Jaclyn could run around the area looking for it, but she’s not at her best, so they might take her out. The rest of us aren’t really big information gatherers. I mean, Nick can do some of that, but his bots are short range, right?”
“Not exactly. The observation bots and the spybots are longer range, but they’re only useful if I either know where to place them or if I have so many that and I can put them everywhere. Right now, neither of those is true. So, you’re right that I need more time or more bots to be useful.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 18
In the big picture, it didn’t matter if we were going to closer to the main action. The important thing was that we met up with Crawls-Through-Desert to find out what he wanted to do—stay or leave?
So we followed Katuk through the forest, all of us running quickly and as silently as we could.
Before we left the scene of the battle, a white beam speared two Ascendancy soldiers that emerged from a group of trees. I’d been about to turn toward them myself, but then the beam hit and a Xiniti appeared to fire a second shot at the two soldiers as they lay on the ground.
Then, sure that they were dead, he disappeared into the trees. Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 17
“Mostly good,” I said. “The Xiniti are here and the first of the Cosmic Ghosts are here. In fact, technically we’re done. The leader of the unit that came to Jadzen Akri’s shelter told me that we’d done what we were supposed to and that we could go. He didn’t want to risk us in this fight—the Ascendancy has fresh troops and ships.”
Katuk froze. “I’ve missed a great deal. The unit leader said we should withdraw? It makes sense. The Xiniti nation prefers not to waste lives. As inexperienced as we currently are, we might prove to be a drag on resources due to our lack of experience in war.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 16